Jack is a board member of the Irish Congress of Southern California, Inc., a nonprofit promoting appreciation of Irish culture, which annually plans and implements the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Irish Festival in Balboa Park.
“You ride in the parade and represent the Irish Congress, mostly at events in Balboa Park, throughout the year,” said Jack of her role as Irish Woman of the year.
As an annual St. Pat’s parade volunteer, Jack said her job involves “doing all the logistics, including the setup and teardown.”
Jack handles the arrangements for all the parade facilities, everything from the stages and fencing to the porta-potties. That task requires her to interface with the city administration, the fire marshal, the Park and Rec Department, the police, EMTs and the ABC, state Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control.
A key part of her job doing parade logistics involves keeping costs to a minimum. She said she does that by paying attention to detail, and by encouraging her colleagues to follow-through on all of their job functions.
Of her designation as Irish Woman of the Year, Jack said “it’s a real honor.”
The 34th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival with the theme “Celebrating People in Public Service,” will be held Saturday, March 15. The free event, held from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., will feature more than 100 entries including marching bands, equestrians, police and fire units, equestrians, Irish dancers and plenty of dignitaries.
Jack has been doing volunteer work for the St. Pats parade and festival the last 10 years.
The Irish Obecean also runs OB Services, which contracts with the BID to collect trash along Newport Avenue in the beach community’s business district.
There’s a large Irish influence in San Diego, “more than you think,” noted Jack pointing out there are “Irish Societies” throughout the community, as well as a House of Ireland in Balboa Park.
“There are Irish events featuring dancing all year long,” Jack said. “It’s a big thing.”
Jack this year is chairman of seven-member board which represents the Irish Congress and conducts the St. Patrick’s parade.
What does it mean to be Irish?
“That you’re crazy,” answered Jack adding, “I’m crazy.”
Asked if she’s gotten any notoriety as Irish Woman of the Year, Jack replied that she has.
“I was over at the Imperial House Lounge the other night and two men from across the room bought me two shots of whiskey,” Jack said. “I didn’t want to tell them I don’t drink. So I acted like I did, but gave them to two of my friends. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.”
Born and raised in San Diego to an Irish Catholic family, Jack was taught the importance of volunteerism and public service early on. Her dad worked for Convair/General Dynamics and was constantly involved in volunteer activities which included his children. He was a member of the Elks Lodge, whose members adopted a less fortunate family for Christmas.
“Volunteering is like a vitamin — it’s good for you,” noted Jack who is carrying on her family tradition of volunteerism. She added being an Irish Congress volunteer is rewarding because it promotes the St. Pats parade and festival which are “very positive family events.”
Jack has been chairperson of the Ocean Beach Christmas Tree Festival for 15 years and coordinates more than 200 vendors at the Ocean Beach Street Fair in June. She can also be found at the PGA’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, the Power Boat races on Mission Bay, the annual Oktoberfest and many more community events throughout the year.